PH an emerging education hub for Asia, says businessman

Carlos Santamaria
English proficiency is among the many pluses that attract foreign students to the country

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines can develop into a new education hub for Asia in the next few years, given its growing investment in the sector, high proficiency in English and low-cost course offerings, according to businessman Ramon Garcia.

“We believe in education. We believe this country needs more and better education, and we must sieze the moment,” Garcia said Friday, May 25, during the official launch of his latest project, the South Forbes City Colleges (SFCC).

Ramon Garcia, chairman of GCIC

Garcia, also the chairman of Global City Innovative College in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, noted that the education sector in the country has such growth potential that local investors are willing to pour in funds and foreign investment groups are just waiting for the authorities to allow them to partner with domestic institutions of higher learning to tap into the sector.

If the green light is given, the Philippines will be able to cater to a growing number of foreign students from other Asian countries like China, Japan and South Korea who are keen on improving their English while they pursue their degrees.

Traditionally, that market has looked to Australia or Singapore, but the Philippines is now a more affordable alternative, given the current world economic slowdown.

New business model for education

Garcia has established SFCC with help from a group of investors who are letting him run the show based on the success of his first school.

The key, he said, is to not just invest, but bring in the private sector.

That is the principle behind the business model for SFCC, which aims not only to teach but to prepare its students for their future “real” jobs after they graduate.

“What we propose is to cut out the middlemen. The corporations tell us what they want from our students, and we train them according to those guidelines. That way they are better prepared for those jobs when they graduate.”

On top of that, SFCC is partnering with companies like Ayala Land, Astoria Hotels or Essence Asia to offer internships to students they want to hire in the future.

Fight the brain drain

SFCC will initially be offering undergraduate courses in Business Administration, Tourism Management and Hotel Management on its brand new campus in Silang, Cavite.

Garcia’s aim is to create a steady flow of skilled professionals that will be able to land well-paying management jobs in sectors like business process outsourcing (BPO) so they will be inclined to stay in the Philippines and fight the massive brain drain that has crippled the economy over the past few years.

“We hope our graduates become the next leaders and problem solvers. We also hope to instil in them to mentality to question the status quo. In a nation approaching 150 million people by 2040, we will need creative and proactive individuals to lead us to an enlightened future for our country.” – Rappler.com

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